1.4 Critical accounting estimates and judgements

The preparation of PostNL's consolidated financial statements in accordance with IFRS requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities, revenue and expenses, and related disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities. It also requires management to exercise its judgement in the process of applying PostNL’s accounting policies.

Estimates, assumptions and judgements are based on historical experience and other factors, including expectations of future events that are believed to be reasonable under the circumstances. The resulting accounting positions will, by definition, seldom equal the related actual results. On a continuous basis, we evaluate our expectations with the actual results, and include the learnings going forward.

The areas involving a higher degree of judgement or complexity, or areas where assumptions and estimates are significant to the consolidated financial statements, are disclosed below.

Other provisions

Other provisions mainly include expected costs related to jubilee, illness, long-term disability and termination employee benefit obligations and claims & indemnities. The provisions recorded reflect the present value of management's best estimate of the expenditure required to settle the obligation. Given the uncertain outcome, management must use a certain degree of judgement in this respect. This includes the thorough analysis and concluding view of our position and that of the third party. See note 3.6 Other provisions to the Consolidated financial statements for more information on the other provisions.

Impairment of non-current assets

In determining impairments of intangible assets including goodwill and software, tangible fixed assets and financial fixed assets, management must make significant judgements and estimates to determine whether the recoverable amount is less than the carrying value. The recoverable amount is the higher of the fair value less costs of disposal and value in use. In assessing the value in use, the estimated future cash flows are discounted to their present value using a pre-tax discount rate that reflects current market assessments of the time value of money and the asset-specific risks. Determining cash flows requires the use of judgements and estimates that have been included in PostNL’s strategic plans and long-term forecasts. The data necessary for the execution of the impairment tests are based on management estimates of future cash flows, which make it necessary to estimate revenue growth rates and profit margins. See note 3.3 Intangible fixed assets to the Consolidated financial statements for more information on the impairment test of goodwill.

Deferred revenue and revenue-related accruals

PostNL has to estimate the deferred revenues from stamps sold but not yet used by its customers. The company uses a seasonal model based on historical figures in order to account for the seasonal effects on sales from stamps (for example, stamp sales for Christmas greetings in November and December). Additionally, the company handles large quantities of international mail and parcel volumes to and from foreign postal operators. Although the net outstanding accrual positions reflect our best estimate, given the assumptions involved, final settlements might deviate from the outstanding positions. See note 3.1 Working capital to the Consolidated financial statements for details on the current positions.

Income taxes and deferred tax assets

The company is subject to income taxes in a number of jurisdictions. Significant judgement is required in determining the provision and liability for income taxes. PostNL recognises liabilities for potential tax issues based on estimates of whether additional taxes will be due, based on its best interpretation of the relevant tax laws and rules. PostNL recognises deferred tax assets to the extent that it is probable that future taxable profits will allow the deferred tax asset to be recovered. This is based on estimates of taxable income by jurisdiction in which the company operates and the period over which deferred tax assets are recoverable. See notes 2.4.2 Income taxes and 3.8 Deferred income tax assets and liabilities to the Consolidated financial statements for more information on income taxes and deferred tax assets.

Contingent liabilities

Legal proceedings covering a range of matters are pending against the company in various jurisdictions. The cases and claims often raise difficult and complex factual and legal issues that are subject to many uncertainties and complexities, including but not limited to the facts and circumstances of each particular case and claim, the jurisdiction and the differences in applicable law. PostNL consults with legal counsel and certain other experts on matters related to litigation. PostNL recognises a liability when it is determined that an adverse outcome is probable and the amount of the loss can be reasonably estimated. See note 3.10 Commitments and contingencies to the Consolidated financial statements for more information on commitments and contingencies.